Essentially, a farrier is an expert in equine hoof care. The horse’s hoof is a delicate piece of anatomy that is prone to a whole host of diseases and maladies. In many ways, a farrier can be thought of as a cross between a veterinarian and a blacksmith. These professionals are responsible for maintaining the health of a horse’s hooves, and in order to do that, they are tasked with the fitting and application of horseshoes. This combination of skills in horse health care and metalsmithing makes being a farrier a very unique position within the community.
A large part of the farrier’s job is to keep an eye on a horse’s hooves to make sure no problems are developing. This involves a lot of cleaning and trimming of the hooves in order to keep them in prime working condition. Using tools called rasps and nippers, a farrier will cut away dead tissue from a horse’s foot. Trimming the hoof on a regular basis keeps it balanced and functional. In addition, many horses that are confined to small areas for extended periods of time will continually walk over the same ground on which they urinate and defecate. In this instance, it is very important that the hooves are thoroughly cleaned regularly in order to ensure no harmful infections develop.
Trimming and cleaning the horse’s hooves is often done in preparation for horseshoe fitting. Horseshoes are metal arches that are applied to the bottom of a horse’s hooves. This may be done for a variety of reasons. For example, domesticated horses often don’t walk on rough surfaces, and therefore their hooves don’t fully harden. This leaves them susceptible to breakage. As such, horseshoes are applied to reinforce the hoof. In addition, shoes may be used as a corrective measure to prevent any irregular growth patterns. Finally, many times horseshoes are attached to give horses extra traction in adverse conditions. No matter what the reason for applying horseshoes, the farrier is the one responsible for getting the job done.
Keep your horse’s hooves in top condition between farrier visits with Finish Line’s Easypack™. It promotes healthy hooves and washes off easily with warm water.